About me

Me at a computer


My name is Kirsten Gotting and I’m PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I am originally from Portland, Oregon but don’t miss the rainy weather.


I graduated from the University of Oregon in 2013 with a BA in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. Before I graduated, I decided to join the Univeristy of Oregon Bioinformatics and Genomics Master’s Program which I completed in 2014. I used this program as a stepping stone to learning bioinformatics and genomics. I moved to Kansas City, Missouri to complete my master’s research internship with the Sánchez Lab and The Stowers Institute for Medical research. My project involved developing an self-documenting RNA-seq pipeline, which I then applied to many projects in the lab. After my internship, I was hired on to continue working as a Bioinformaticist in the Sánchez Lab where I stayed until 2017 and collaborated on many different projects.

I am broadly interested in evolutionary genomics, and for my PhD work I joined Cameron Currie’s lab at the beginning of 2018. In the Currie lab, I use field work, molecular biology, microbiolgy and bioinformatics to explore the evolution and adaptation of microbes to their environments. Currently, I am working with the fungus farming ant symbiosis to understand the selective forces that shape pathogen resistance in the specialized mycoparasite Escovopsis. I love research and actively welcome new collaborations and connections for postdoctoral research opportunities.

Some research questions I am fascinated by are: How do individuals in a microbial population recognize themselves verses others? How do microbes evolve and adapt to new niches? How does is adaptation reflected in phenotypic traits? How do traits evolve and diversify? Do symbioses create and/or enforce species boundaries?

Me with a fungus growing on a culturing plate

Me at a dissection scope

Outside Academia

Before I joined my PhD I avidly rock climbed. I had the privilege of traveling to Ten Sleep, Wyoming for the summer of 2017 to climb for a couple months before starting my research. I still love climbing, and plan to return to it regularly someday. Now, one of my favorite hobbies is reading! My favorite books I read recently are ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’, ‘Circe’, ‘Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body’, ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’, and ‘No One Tells You This’. I also love gardening, cooking, crocheting, and hiking (although you’ll probably find me on the trail staring at plants and fungi rather trying to make it to the end).

Me rock climbing in Cody, Wyoming in 2017 Photo Credit: Louie Anderson